back to article Voila! Bazinga! Amazon turns Alexa into an annoying 'cool' aunt

Say what you like about Amazon, it has never been cool. So it was only a matter of time before it managed to take the one cool thing it has done – the voice-activated Amazon Echo digital assistant Alexa – and make it embarrassing. Well, that time has arrived with the introduction of the Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My aunt, the spy

    I would be content with the silly mutterings of these devices, if it were not for the fact they are merely gateways to let marketing people "discover what humans like so we can bombard them with adverts for things we sell that we just know they'll love. did I tell you we sell things?" Fucking annoying. I've used The Queen (Siri) twice. It should be able to do anything. Not just a handful of crap I can do with my free hand.

    No, I am not a monkey, but I do love the way they fling crap with their hands. Say, could we just replace the Alexa/Cortuna/Siri gateway with a sign-language usin', dirty-talkin', rhesus macaque? I would rent that guy for a weekend or two!

    I will call him Rhesus Peaceus! and feed him little peanut butter candies, and we'll be the bestest of pals! I just KNOW IT!!1!

    1. fidodogbreath

      Re: My aunt, the spy

      merely gateways to let marketing people "discover what humans like so we can bombard them with adverts

      A friend asked me whether he should get a Google Home or an Amazon Echo.

      I said he should get one from whichever company doesn't know enough about him yet.

      What can I say? I'm a party pooper. I can tell because whenever I go to Amazon, I get suggestions for party supplies and toilet paper.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Aren't nerds and TV addicts those who buy this stfuff?

      Thus the vocabulary looks quite right for the target market.

  2. fidodogbreath

    Just like all the hep cats

    Maybe Amazon Fresh will finally be able to reply to your grocery order with "yes, we have no bananas." 23 skiddoo, daddy-o.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Just like all the hep cats

      But no "woka, woka, woka" unless you want bear playing a piano.

  3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Brought to you by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

    From all of us to all of you, let me be the first to say,


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brought to you by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation


      Did that. Jolly wheeze. Became PM.

      "Alexa what was the referendum result?"

      "Look Dave ... I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. "

  4. inmypjs Silver badge

    "the more Alexa sounds...

    like a real human talking back to you, the more comforting and the less jarring it might be"

    Really? You have to be some kind of stupid to find a computer comforting. The more it sounds like a human conversing with me the more creeped out I will be.

    1. frank ly

      Re: "the more Alexa sounds...

      Oh yes and twice yes. It's like they didn't know about the uncanny valley so they fell right into it.

    2. P. Lee

      Re: "the more Alexa sounds...

      >The more it sounds like a human conversing with me the more creeped out I will be.

      With apologies to Razer, "by the socially incompetent, for the socially incompetent."

      But maybe that's the plan. Maybe they are aiming at 14 year-olds because they want to capture the next generation. As the media industries can tell you, it is far easier to influence children than adults.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the more Alexa sounds...

        Just cross Alexa with Tay for the perfect digital assistant...

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: "the more Alexa sounds...

      If it's going to be more like a real human maybe it shoudl say things like stop fannying around on the interweb and do something important like put up that shelf / mow the lawn / do the ironing etc.

  5. Dr Scrum Master

    once caught an episode of the Sopranos and now talks in a terrible Jersey accent whenever there's spaghetti for dinner.

    It's terrible when people start mixing up The Sopranos and Bergerac...

  6. John Browne 1

    Merde Alors*

    It took me 30 years of hard drinking to kill off the brain cells that stored 'nanu nanu', and now that piece of dreck* is back. Thanks a lot, Amazon.

    Ho Hum, back to the bottle shop...

    * Linguistic clichés they don't have yet but will probably need real soon.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm tech. but don't get why anyone tech. likes dire shit like The Big Bang Theory!

    Having any internet listening device in a home is security retarded, including some smart TVs, it brings 1984 into the home, for f'sake! Tablets and PCs can be a risk too when they have camera and/or microphones which are not disabled.

    Most of the TV series are boring, insulting, or subtly harmful to Anglo civilisation; they often including Fabian ("Frog in Cold to Boiling Water"), cultural Marxism, like Feminism (Hypergamy Sluts in the City like behaviour etc.), and other Anglo civilisation sabotage.

    California and Silicon Valley have been revealed to be infested with cultural Marxism brainwashed, "Left Wing" useful idiots pawn of the very rich, and that includes no genuine apolitical respect for privacy or freedom of speech, so I'm wary of all internet tech. from there! uMatrix helps block more of their browser based intrusion.

    1. frank ly

      Re: I'm tech. but don't get why anyone tech. likes dire shit like The Big Bang Theory!

      What frightens me is that my tinfoil hat is useless against all that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm tech. but don't get why anyone tech. likes dire shit like The Big Bang Theory!

      OK, Sheldon, stop posting on The Register or I'll call your mum.


    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I'm tech. but don't get why anyone tech. likes dire shit like The Big Bang Theory!

      Have an upvote but I am afraid that the way things are going it is going to be very difficult to NOT have at least one of these things in your home in the not so distant future.

      It won't be long before just about everything has some form of digital assistant builtin.

      I'll resist by making them unable to connect to my network but I am sure there will be ways that they can get around that.

      The NSA/FBI/CIA/GCHQ/FSB/Google/Microsoft/Amazon cabal need to know more about you and your life thatn you do just so that you can be a good citizen, buy the right products when told to by advertising and not be a terrorist/refusenik.

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Emergency backup personality?

    With a nod to the SCC post above, there could be more than a few Alexas getting reprogrammed with a very large axe.

  9. Mage

    No problem

    I wasn't going to ever let one of these in the house anyway. Now I have another excuse.

  10. Disk0

    Can we just have a butler

    At least to me that is generally the most pleasant style of providing assistance I have come across. Alternatively, a diner waitress from Kentucky will do.

  11. RonWheeler

    No Monty Python?

    Python bores would go ape.

  12. src

    My ideal computer voice.

    "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

  13. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    The Monotone Delivery

    The author obviously has not been to enough tech conferences in the USA where every presentation seems to be delivered this way. It sends you to sleep because you are bored to tears.

    Just SOP over there I'm afraid.

  14. Franco

    I was given an Echo Dot for Christmas and had to fake enthusiasm, along with the robotic hoover I was given for my birthday.

    The Echo is in the kitchen, and I do (occasionally) turn it on when I'm in there, either to play some music or for the timer function. The timer works fine, the music playing is fucking useless. You would assume that the first thing the dozy bint would check is your music library, but no. Automatic assumption of whatever popular dreck is in the charts over music that you have actually purchased. She only gets switched on when required though, as after about 30 minutes of being on and at least half a dozen "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that" annoyed me (even before the stories of people buying stuff by accident)

    BTW the robotic hoover is still in the box. It was out briefly, spent 12 hours beeping at me whilst it chardged, beeped more loudly when charged, and then beeped more loudly and more annoyingly for the 5 minutes it was on and then changed to a quieter but more annoying beep when it's capacity of one bag of crisps was reached. Progress is not always in a forward direction.

  15. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken


    Still no sale, though.

    (Okay, there are some applications of this kind of tech I can approve of: Skeewiff Feat Siri - Know How.)

  16. Apprentice of Tokenism


    Well, that time has arrived with the introduction of the Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or SSML, added to the Alexa developer kit, which will let its computerized voice pronounce words and phrases in a more sophisticated, expressive way.

    Is this the revival of S.A.M. and Reciter? "AY4 AEM AH KUMPYUW3TER."

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